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State schedules eminent domain hearing

Area residents who would like to provide input on the state’s eminent domain laws are invited to do so in writing or in person at the Missouri Task Force on Eminent Domain’s Aug. 18 meeting in Jefferson City.

The public is invited to the 10 a.m. meeting in House Hearing Room 7 in the Capitol. There is no need to sign up in advance. Depending on the number of citizens who attend, oral testimony will be limited to five or 10 minutes. Those who plan to testify are asked to bring a written copy of their testimony so the task force can refer to it later, Gov. Matt Blunt spokesman Jessica Robinson said.

Those who would like their opinions to be considered, but do not have the ability to travel to the hearing, may submit their comments in writing to Chairman Terry Jarrett, in care of the Office of the Governor, Room 216, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City Mo. 65101. Testimonies also may be faxed to 573-751-1588 or may be sent via the Internet at http://www.mo.gov/mo/eminentdomain/index.htm.

The committee asks that groups choose a spokesman and that testimonies do not repeat comments that already have been stated, Robinson added.

Blunt ordered the formation of the task force on June 28 after a recent Supreme Court decision involving eminent domain allowed a city to seize land for future commercial development. Blunt said the ruling in Kelo v. City of New London undermined the balance between owners of private property and the needs of the public.

The nine-member task force has five basic charges. It is to study the use of eminent domain, particularly when the proposed public use of the property would not be owned by or directly used by the general public. The group also is to analyze current state and federal laws that govern eminent domain and recommend any changes that would make the laws more effective.

The task force is to define “public use” that will ensure the preservation of individual property rights while allowing the state and local governments to use eminent domain when there is a clear and direct purpose.

Members are to develop criteria to follow when the use of eminent domain is proposed. Lastly, the task force is to make recommendations for specific eminent domain legislation for possible consideration by the legislature. The group is expected to disband Dec. 31.

At its first meeting on Aug. 4, the task force reviewed eminent domain law and procedure in the state, defined major areas for review such as the definitions of “blight,” “public use,” “just compensation” and divided into urban, rural/suburban, legislative and procedure subgroups.

In addition to Jarrett, members of the Eminent Domain Task Force are: Attorney Gerard T. Carmody of St. Louis; businessman Chris Goodson of St. Louis; bank vice president and senator Chuck Gross of St. Charles; farm president and representative Steve Hobbs of Mexico; Missouri Farm Bureau representative Leslie Holloway of Jefferson City; attorney Lewis R. Mills of Jefferson City; attorney Spencer R. Thomson of Kansas City; and special city counsel Howard C. Wright of Springfield.

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